Could You Get Stuck With Your Parent's Nursing Home Bill?
That's a question you better ask yourself and know the answer to now.
Here's why. A recent Pennsylvania decision, Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. John Pittas, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a son can be held liable for his mother's nursing home bills. The case involved a woman who moved to Greece without settling her more than $90,000 nursing home bill. The court found that her son was liable for her nursing home bill. It ruled that a child capable of paying their parent's healthcare bills is required to pay them.
“So far, Pennsylvania is leading the charge to require adult children to foot their parents' long-term care bills. However, 29 states have laws in place that could require adult children to provide this financial support and there is reason to believe that other states will follow Pennsylvania's lead, although for now, states have varying degrees of enforcement,” says Mitch Adel, senior partner with the law firm of Cooper, Adel & Associates. “In Ohio, for example, the law is even more punitive than Pennsylvania's, as the Ohio statute makes it a criminal offense to fail to provide that support.”
What's driving the change? “The combined impact of states facing budget shortfalls and the demographics of aging Baby Boomers who are living longer and increasing the cost of long term care, means that states are reexamining laws that may assist third party creditors in compelling adult children to pay their parents' nursing home bills,” says Adel.
The tab can be huge. According to the Genworth 2012 Cost of Care Survey, the median annual rate for a private nursing home rate is $81,030.
“As in most situations, the wealthy will be able to afford a wide variety of long-term care options and have access to various financial planners and professional assistance. The poor will qualify for the various entitlements such as MediCaid/MediCal, unless the political landscape changes so drastically as to remove these entitle, they will not have major concerns. The middle-class family is in for a wild ride when it comes to planning for aging parents,” warns Forrest Hong, LCSW, C-ASWCM, a social work/care manager, who works extensively with families who are in the process of planning for their long-term care needs.